A lot of people talk about emotional advertising. What they generally mean is advertising that attempts to induce you to bond with the brand or product rather than present a rational argument as to why you should try it. I don't think that you can solely live by one or the other approaches - every decision that a customer makes is a complex blend of both, depending on the category and person. Anyway, I'm not going to get into that now.

What I'm talking about is the emotion that you put into making advertising. I think it helps. A lot. People in advertising and marketing are like anyone - they want people to think that they are good at what they do. So there is a pressure to act and approach problems professionally and diligently. Unfortunately, this professional approach can be counter-productive. The more professional you attempt to be, the more you are stripping the humanity out of what you're doing.

The more that you attempt to be responsible and proper, the more that you are stopping yourself reacting to the problem/brief/situation in a human and normal manner. And you need this honest, human reaction to create really good work that other people will relate to or be affected by.

Agencies and marketing departments put us under pressure to prove that we know what we're doing, and that discourages people from behaving normally. Resist this urge as much as you can, and allow yourself to react to problems and briefs in an honest manner - it will lead to more honest work. I'm lucky enough to have been around when some great work has been created, and often that work has had its root in someone being angry at how stupid something is, or violently disagreeing with an approach, or a real disagreement between people who are working on it, someone thinks that product is stupid, or someone who admits they are confused about something and attempts to solve it in the work.

Another part of this is this kind of happy-clappy environment that a lot of agencies try to foster. Everything is rainbows and ponies with this lot - it's all builds and positive vibes. It's all facile horseshit to force people to get along and not question things. And especially to try to get the talented people to bear the stupidity of the idiots who inevitably surround them in big agencies. These forced cultures in fact make people withhold their genuine reaction to things, and ultimately that's not healthy, and not good for the work.

Try to be true to yourself and the feelings you have about a problem or brief, and try to capture that emotion and reaction in your work. That's how you get to things that no one else would have thought of, and how you do work that surprises people. And because it has genuine human thoughts at the heart of it, not professional marketing insights - it's how you create advertising that people actually relate to.


  1. Terrific post! Reacting honestly to a problem (or opportunity) is our best resource. What a waste to tailor our reactions to prove something to someone. Hooray for honesty! Thank you for writing the post.

  2. Very well put.

    Do you think people are losing the ability to criticise each other with worrying about them taking offence?

    Does that inability hamper honest and problem solving?

  3. I love this. Thank you.

  4. Thanks all.

    Yes Jim, absolutely.